Priced at $899, the Acer X1160 is a decent deal if you're looking for a quick-and-dirty big-screen solution. It's a small, DLP-based projector, which doesn't have an extensive feature set with not so great image quality; however, it's an affordable unit for business users who want something portable to take on the road for presentations, or for weekend entertainers who want to invite the neighbours over to watch a DVD or sporting event.
For office presentations, the X1160 features a D-Sub port, which can be connected to a PC or notebook, and has a native resolution of 800x600. This is a 4:3 aspect ratio, but widescreen material was handled exceptionally, as we hardly noticed any paleness in the bars above and below the widescreen picture. During our tests, it produced crisp and fairly bright results when projecting a Windows desktop; text was easy to read and graphics, such as logos, graphs and tables were serviceable. Photos, on the other hand, lacked definition and contrast; subtle colours were drowned out and shadowed areas were just too dark. The same problems were observed while watching DVDs and digital TV, with dark movies and TV shows suffering considerably. Digital TV from a standard-definition set-top box also looked blotchy. The projector does allow for its contrast, brightness, colour and sharpness settings to be changed, and it also has a few task presets, such as video and presentation mode, that can be invoked at the press of a button.
For users who watch a lot of DVDs, but who can't afford a home theatre projector or big screen TV just yet, the X1160 is a good stop-gap solution. It can be setup quickly on a coffee table and aimed at the nearest wall, and projects a screen size as large as 64cm from a short distance of 1m. However, be sure to have some Yellow Pages handy to prop it up. Indeed, the unit itself doesn't have much in the way of physical adjustments; only one height-adjustable leg is present at the front of the unit, none at the back (apart from the right one, which extends only a few millimetres), and the lens can't be zoomed, only focused. The unit has screw holes for a base to be attached, which can facilitate a wall- or ceiling-mounted position.
S-Video and composite ports are available at the rear of the unit for DVD and digital set-top box connections, for example, and the projector will easily handle the 720x576 resolution of DVDs and most standard-definition set-top boxes. The composite connection is adequate for plugging in gaming consoles such as a PlayStation 2 -- we connected ours and had no problems playing Tekken on the big screen -- but the S-Video connection will provide much better quality when viewing movies and TV.
The projector's specifications state that it has a 6-segment colour wheel, which aims to reduce the 'rainbow effect', but flashes of colour were visible during scenes with dark and contrasting colours. Overall though, the 'rainbow effect' wasn't bad enough to make viewing unpleasant. Its 2000 ANSI lumens brightness rating is good for the price, and the projector was bright enough to be viewed in a well lit room during the day. The lamp has a stated lifespan of 4000 hours, so it should last a very long while if used conservatively.
As for heat, the X1160 will warm up a typical 4x6m room noticeably. Its cooling fan extracts air through a side-firing vent, instead of a forward-firing one, so people sitting to the right of the unit will definitely feel the heat more than others. The fan is audible and will be noticeable during quiet periods of movies and TV shows.